A Journey to the Hill Stations of Himachal Pradesh.
The hill state of Himachal Pradesh, sandwiched between Punjab and Tibet, encapsulates the verdant Himalayan foothills. Walking trails meander through orchard valleys and subtropical forests, leading us to deep gorges, pretty villages, roaring rivers and pine forests. The mountain air is crisp and cool and the panoramic vistas of this once inaccessible area overlook a favourite summer retreat for the British ruling government, whose legacy of colonial mansions, churches and remarkable railways sit comfortably alongside monasteries and temples.
From Delhi, we take the train into the state of Punjab, to Amritsar. We visit the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, with the chance to experience first light prayers. The ceremonial sunset Retreat at Wagha Border, the only land crossing between Pakistan and India, is a fascinating ritual.
We move on, using 4x4 vehicles, to Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan Government for over three decades. The Tibetan influence here is strong. Dharamsala is the starting point for our foray into the Himalayan foothills.
From both Manali (4,000m), located at the head of the Kullu Valley, and the hill station of Shimla (2,000m), once the summer capital of the British Colonial Raj, we’ll walk in the surrounding hill country and experience Himachal Pradesh at its most idyllic, with its panoramic landscapes, snow capped peaks, tranquil villages, raging rivers, fruit orchards and terraced fields.
An exhilarating steam train ride on the narrow gauge railway from Shimla to Kalka offers an old world charm as it gently snakes through the countryside. From Kalka we return to Delhi by train for a final visit before we depart for home.
Full and half day walks at a moderate pace over hilly terrain. Many of these holidays have an element of sightseeing as well. Half day walk will involve about 3 hours or walking, with full day walks having around 5 hours. Expect ascents and descents of up to 600m.